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Meghalaya High Court issues contempt notice against State Home Secretary

The contempt notice was issued because the Home Secretary was ordered on September 30 to file a report before the court on action taken against the allegations. 

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Shillong: The Meghalaya High Court on Wednesday issued a contempt notice against the State Home Secretary for disregarding a court order hearing alleged embezzlement of funds and misuse of police vehicles.

The contempt notice was issued because the Home Secretary was ordered on September 30 to file a report before the court on action taken against the allegations. 

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The report or affidavit was supposed to be submitted before the court by October 17 but the Secretary failed to do so. 

“Let a suo motu rule of contempt be issued against the Secretary in the Home Department for deliberately disregarding an order of this court, trying to obfuscate the issue and stand as an impediment to a fact-finding exercise in the matter of defalcation of public funds,” a division bench of the High Court comprising of Chief Justice, Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Wanlura Diengdoh directed.

In its order, the court sought a report through the Home Secretary on steps taken, including “arresting any attempt by those prima facie found to be involved in the racket to remove or dissipate or secret their assets or funds.”

The court ruling pertains to a PIL filed by a former diplomat Riewad Vicharwant Warjri and another citizen on the purchase of vehicles by the Police Department since 2019 without any valid sanction from the competent authority and also 29 official vehicles were in the personal custody of the then Assistant Inspector General (Administration) of the Meghalaya Police.

The police department in an internal inquiry unearthed the alleged scam. The office of the Meghalaya Director General of Police on October 11 submitted a report of an enquiry committee to the department along with the article of charges and articles of imputation against the erring officer.

“The Department after examining the matter with the approval of the competent authority, departmental proceedings against the officer have been initiated,” the court said.

However, despite the availability of the report, it was not filed before the court as ordered and so the contempt proceedings. Now that the contempt proceedings have been initiated the next hearing over it would be held on November 2.  

“The department will ensure that the rule is drawn up immediately and personally served on the contemnor,” the Court said.

“A detailed report as to the quantum of the perceived loss, the extent of the abuse of authority, the manner of misuse of vehicles and the prima facie affixation of responsibility should be available in court when this matter appears next on the same date. It is hoped that the State deals with the matter with the seriousness that it deserves,” the Court ordered. 

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